What happens when those we trust most with human life are suddenly in charge of death?
Earlier this month, the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, ruling against a family who wanted their mother’s care home to stop spoon-feeding her.
It’s difficult to fault either party.
Margaret Bentley, 83, neither speaks nor recognizes her relatives, and her family is certain the former dementia-ward nurse, now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease herself, would not want her life to continue in her current state.
A living will written by Bentley in 1991 outlined as much in no uncertain terms: “If at such a time the situation should arise that there is no reasonable expectation of my recovery from extreme physical or mental disability, I direct that I be allowed to die and not be kept alive by artificial means or ‘heroic measures.’ ”
But Bentley’s health-care workers refused to deliberately withhold food. They argued that by opening her lips to receive food when touched with a spoon, Bentley was consenting to being fed, and thus to being kept alive. The courts agreed. . . [Full text]